Toy Australian Shepherd: Size, Lifespan, Temperament & More

Toy Australian Shepherd: Size, Lifespan, Temperament & More

Last Updated on January, 2023

All dog parents have a type, and cute smaller dogs are one of the most popular types. Toy Australian shepherds are one of the most popular breeds at present because of that. 

If you already have one at your home or are in the process of getting one, it’s essential to know the full picture.

That’s why we put this ultimate portal of knowledge. 

Even if you know nothing about Toy Shepherds right now, you’ll learn everything, that’s right! Everything a Toy Australian Shepherd parent should know.

So, let’s get started. 

Quick Summary

Toy Australian Shepherds are not recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC), but have the same origins and history as Australian Shepherds.

The breed of Australian Shepherds originated in California in the 19th century and was bred from a mixture of different sheepdogs.

The Toy Australian Shepherd is created by breeding standard or mini Australian Shepherds with smaller dog breeds such as Corgis or Pomeranians. However, some breeders prioritize inbreeding which can lead to health issues and non-identical builds in the breed.

Toy Australian Shepherd: History and Background

Toy Australian Shepherd playing on the ground

You first need to know that Toy Australian Shepherd is not a recognized breed.

The standard Australian shepherds have been recognized as a breed since 1979, and mini Australian Shepherds have only been recognized as a breed since 2015 by the American Kennel Club (AKC). 

Nonetheless, the Toy Australian Shepherd has the same origins/history as the Australian Shepherd. In a way, it’s the same breed too.

So, the Australian Shepherd does not originate from Australia at all. Their breed’s origin goes back to the 19th century in California.

This is where Australian Shepherds were bred from a mixture of different sheepdogs. After all, shepherds at the time were primarily involved with farm work.

But why the name? Why call them the Australian Shepherd?

The reason is that some of the breeding dogs were imported from Australia. The Australian shepherd breed soon gained popularity as companion and herding dogs. In parallel, breeders started breeding miniature Aussies.

A journey has ended up with The Toy Australian shepherd in the present. These intelligent, enthusiastic, and friendly dogs deserve to be in your life. 

Now that you know the origin and history of the Toy Australian shepherd dog breed let’s get into the finer details.

Overview of Toy Australian Shepherd 

Breeding of the Toy Australian Shepherd 

So, the Toy Australian Shepherd dog breed originates from the Australian Shepherd. How come they are so small? 

The secret is the breeding strategy.

The Toy Australian Shepherd is bred in two methods. 

The first method is by birth given by Toy Australian shepherd mothers. This method can be a bit difficult for dogs and breeders.

The main reason is because of the tremendous pressure of birth their bodies have to tolerate.

Toy Australian Shepherd standing on the ground

This leads to the inevitable need for cesarean sections. So, it’s natural for dog breeders to give birth with a vet’s supervision.

But it’s relatively easier for the standard or mini Australian Shepherd dog breed to give birth. That’s why breeders will cross them with smaller dog breeds such as Corgis or Pomernarians. Needless to say, both parents need to be healthy.

The Controversy of Breeding the Toy Australian Shepherd

The Toy Australian shepherd is still not accepted as a breed. But why is there a controversy?

The problem is how some breeders prioritize inbreeding over the earlier mentioned two methods. While it might be convenient, this method has the highest risk of producing dogs with health issues, according to veterinarians.

Not only that, but irresponsible breeding can also produce toy Aussies without identical build; some are slimmer, and some are heavier. 

This issue is not that significant, thanks to the majority of adequately bred dogs. 

Next, let’s look at the physical traits of Toy Aussies.

Physical Characteristics of the Toy Australian Shepherd

Toy Australian shepherd puppies weigh about 2 ounces at birth unless they have breeding complications. You can expect about 3-4 puppies at once.

As mentioned earlier, the Toy Australian Shepherd dog breed is basically the second smallest version of standard Australian shepherds.

But you can expect a typical height of around 10-14 inches and a weight of about 10-20 lbs. But that depends on the dog’s gender too. 

Toy Australian Shepherd standing on the snow

The typical Australian Shepherd built is evident in healthy toy Australian shepherds with signature triangular ears with slightly rounded tips. It’s normal if the small part of the ear seems to be folded forward.

You’ll notice that their front legs are a teeny bit arched, although the back legs are less arched. This nature of the legs directly resembles the standard Australian Shepherd. It’s unique for the dog breed.

That’s why they have a distinctive ready-to-charge look, even in the toy Australian shepherd puppies.

They have a medium length coat, and the fur can be wavy or straight. Naturally, the coat colors can be red, blue, white, brown, black, or even tri-colored. 

It’s extremely rare to find one-color toy Australian breeds just as much as dogs with white fur around their eyes or ears.

However, markings are very common in toy Aussies. Patches can be found on the feet, tummy, and even chest.

Overall, the Australian Shepherd looks fantastic and is the second smallest version of the standard Australian Shepherd.

Typical Personality 

Australian shepherds are intelligent dogs that are easy to train and definitely not aggressive. Don’t be surprised by their early socialization skills too.

In addition, toy shepherds are very active and playful. Any Aussie puppy would be hard evidence for that.

It’s natural to see the rise and stabilization of that playfulness by when they’re about 2 years old — that’s when they’re fully grown. But even through their adulthood, you will continue to notice their playful enthusiasm.

Toy Australian Shepherd standing on the floor

The main reason why this dog breed is easy to train is that they’re very intelligent and sociable. So, both methods will be successful even if you go with in-person or online training.

But their playful and active personality brings a personality trait — they can be bored easily. But the fix is pretty straightforward. There are so many games you can train them to stay busy with. 

The Toy Aussies are very emotionally needy. They crave affection from their dog parents. So, there’s that additional commitment to fulfill your Toy Aussies’ love and affection requirement.

Because lacking emotional satisfaction can develop separation anxiety even if they’re physically present with you.

But as a matter of fact, toy Aussies won’t suit someone who wants a dog to stay still all day long.

Are Toy Australian Shepherds the Same as Miniature Australian Shepherds?

As mentioned earlier, the Toy Australian shepherd is the second smallest version of the standard Australian Shepherd. 

But miniature Australian shepherds grow larger; the smallest version is the teacup shepherd, which was about 5-7 lbs.

To give a pinpointing difference, standard Australian shepherds are taller than 18 inches, miniature Australian shepherds are between 14 and 18 inches, and toy Aussies are between 10 and 14 inches in height.

a dog standing on the ground

But apart from the size difference, there’s another big difference between the toy and the mini Australian Shepherd — the toy Aussie shepherd could NOT function as a full working dog. 

The term “toy” itself outlines their life purpose, and expecting them to do so is not recommended. 

So, the Toy Australian shepherd and the miniature Australian Shepherd are very different.

Toy Australian Shepherds Colors 

One of the biggest reasons people love toy Aussies is that they come in many colors. But to give a glimpse, breeders have pinpointed four distinctive colors — Red, Red merle, Blue merle, and Black.

Each color has variations, and here’s how they vary,

  • Red: Solid red, Red bi-color, Red tri-color
  • Red Merle: Solid red merle, Red merle tri-color, Red and white
  • Blue Merle:  Solid blue merle, Blue merle and tan, Blue merle bi-color and tri-color
  • Black: Solid black, Black bi-color and tri-color, Black and tan

But we know how it all comes down to one crucial question — that’s what we will discuss next.

Are Toy Australian Shepherds Suitable as Family Pets?

a dog sitting on the ground

To summarize, the Toy Australian shepherds are active, social, and playful dogs that are very compact in size. But do they make great family dogs?

Toy Aussies aren’t bred to be working dogs. That leaves them for many other purposes, including being the family pet. That any Toy Aussie is a fantastic companion dog.

So, yes, they are excellent as family pets. 

Not only are Toy Aussies friendly with humans, but they get on well with other breeds too. But it’s always better the personalities of other breeds sync well with the toy Aussies.

Of course, any dog should be trained. But remember that toy Aussies are a version of the standard Australian Shepherd — they still are herding dogs. So, if you’re bringing a toy Aussie shepherd to a house with little children, you must be cautious and alert.

Because the herdings dog type can be a tad aggressive.

In addition, toy Aussies don’t deviate too much from the typical standard Australian shepherd behaviors of being noisy. They’ll bark aloud at neighbors and especially when they’re playing around.

Don’t worry; the section after the next section is dedicated to fixing these issues and taking the best care of your toy Aussie.

Suitability of Toy Australian Shepherds for New Dog Parents

a dog standing on the ground

The compact size might make you feel like they’re easy to manage with zero experience as dog parents, but that’s far-fetched. Taking care of a Toy Australian Shepherd may need more attention and energy than handling an GSD.

So, it’ll be a little challenging for new dog parents.

It’s mainly because they shouldn’t be left alone for too long. Remember separation anxiety?

Don’t feel discouraged if you’re new dog parents. As mentioned earlier, the next section is about preparing you to be the best toy Aussie shepherd parent.

How to Properly Take Care of Your Toy Australian Shepherd?

Toy Australian Shepherd standing on the ground

It’s not difficult to take care of smaller breeds like toy Aussies. It only becomes ineffective when you don’t know what to do.

This section pinpoints the most critical areas, such as grooming, feeding, vet visits, and how to express your love and affection towards them.

Grooming Toy Australian Shepherds

Smaller dog breeders take good care of themselves; the theory also applies to the Toy Australian shepherd. Nonetheless, they need constant grooming, and it’s very convenient.

Occasional brushing is recommended as it directly connects to maintaining good health — it reduces the formation of mats. On the flip side, it speeds up the shedding.

You’ll notice that shedding is more frequent during spring and fall. Ideally, you might require to brush your dog several times a week.

Brush occasionally with a pin brush as that helps better untangle hair conveniently. Hair around the neck can be a bit challenging. 

When you do, pay attention to how the pet responds. Toy Australian shepherds are active and sensitive, too — you don’t want to make them feel like they’re being held hostage.

Toy Aussies have a medium length coat. But this is a double coat, so it’s better to groom frequently.

If you can’t brush daily, allocate at least three days per week to do it, which might be enough. Weekly brushing is the bare minimum.

Ears and nails are the two most important body parts that require cleaning. This is mostly given how active they are. So, take a moment during the day and clean and trim the nails as needed from an early age. The same theory applies to brushing teeth as well.

Washing or bathing your toy Aussie shepherd isn’t necessary daily. However, at least once a week or two should be enough.

Now you know how to groom one, but what about feeding?

Feeding Toy Australian Shepherds

Figuring out how to feed toy breeds is a challenge. But it won’t be after reading this part.

Toy Aussies are very active and have a high growth rate during their early years.

That’s why they need a balanced and nutritional diet.

So, what sort of food is suitable for toy Australian shepherds?

For starters, food with high-fat content will be most suitable. 

dog foods in the bowl

Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables stabilize digestion, bringing extra comfort to the breed. Strawberries and blueberries are highly recommendable to fulfill the vitamin and antioxidants requirement.

The following important question is, how much and how often should I feed my Toy Australian shepherd?

2/3 to 2 cups of food per day is advisable when your toy Australian puppy is one to three months old. The amount increases from three weeks to eight months to 1 to 3 cups daily.

But it’s always better to go with the veterinarian’s recommendation. That’s because not all pets share the same activeness or the environmental conditions they live in.

Food should be administered to the toy Aussie shepherd puppy 3 to 4 times a day until the puppy is one year old. Afterward, you can feed them twice; in the morning and night.

Now, you’re asking yourself, “what shouldn’t I let my toy Australian shepherd eat?”

Stay away from coffee, chocolates, chewing gum, grapes, avocados, and raisins, and you’re good.

The bottom line is that toy Aussie shepherds are a physically smaller version of Australian shepherds. The food that is poisonous for Australian shepherds must NOT be given to toy Aussies at any cost.

During this journey, the role of your vet is crucial. Let’s see how that works.

Vet Visits Toy Australian Shepherds

The rule of thumb with toy Australian shepherds is to have one designated vet whom you should visit once a month. But why so?

Toy Aussies are very friendly, without a doubt, but they’re also very responsive to a sense of danger. It’ll be a bit of an issue if your Toy Australian shepherd puppy or dog gets agitated every time you visit a new vet — so choose one reliable vet.

The reason for monthly visits is that toy Aussies are moderately healthy dogs. But health complications pop up randomly; especially with what they eat. 

Toy Australian Shepherd puppies

When you visit the vet, be prepared to answer questions because whatever medication and whatnot is recommended based on that.

These aspects include the average distance and time spent walking, the average calorie intake and expenditure, sleeping frequency, any symptoms of unhealthiness, and this list goes on.

These stats can be monitored and recorded with modern dog training collars. These are typically connected to mobile apps and make everything very convenient for you and the vet.

It’s imperative to follow your vet’s advice with smaller-sized dogs. The rule applies all the same to toy Aussie shepherds.

In all vet visits, the vet will address exercising matters, which we discuss next.

Exercising Toy Australian Shepherds

If you want the numbers, an hour or two of physical exercising, including two walks, is enough for an adult toy Australian shepherd for a week or two. If it’s a puppy, 5-10 minutes is enough for a month.

Although these are the average numbers, what’s ideal is to follow what your vet suggests.

But typically, exercising shouldn’t be limited to walking. Dog parents also should consider swimming, running, and exciting games. Out of these, interesting games go the longest way.

Toy Australian Shepherd jumping the barrier

It’s mainly because they balance the physical and mental stimulation thoroughly.

Toy Aussies tend to grow mentally and physically during their first to second years. This is the most critical time to invest in mental stimulation or brain exercise. With exciting games, achieving the expected intelligence levels is not a challenge. 

The foundation of getting your toy Australian shepherd to exercise is establishing a good emotional connection with them.

That’s the next topic.

Pet Parents’ Love

Toy Aussies are very active and quick, which might push them to run away to the road. Maybe you’ll find them barking uncontrollably at visitors or neighbors. These are some examples of their active behavior.

Most of these issues can be fixed with one trick: loving attention.

Separation anxiety can get really bad for toy Aussies like that. That’s why dog parents who choose this breed are typically prepared for that emotional connection. 

Toy Australian Shepherds

But let’s be realistic — it’s not always possible to stay around them. The most practical way to keep them in control is by training them. 

That’s what we will discuss next.

Strategies to Train Toy Australian Shepherds Easily

All dog parents dream of having a playful pet. But it can get very problematic when they don’t listen to you. That’s why dog training is essential for any dog breed.

Smaller dogs like Toy Aussies are not exempted from that.

Without ideal training, your toy Aussie will be,

  • Barking uncontrollably
  • Whine unnecessarily
  • Run away randomly
  • Try to get into quarrels with other dogs
  • Not come back when called
  • Go to the toilet indoors.

Having ideal mental stimulation is the key to fixing these issues; it’s the foundation of any successful training. 

In parallel, physical stimulation or exercise is necessary as well. Physical stimulation might not require that much professional interference. After all, you can simply take your dog for a walk or run daily, and they’ll be fine. 

But mental stimulation becomes the focus of the Toy Aussie training.

That’s what dog trainers focus primarily on in their classes. Almost all the classes have several levels of training. 

The trainers start by making your Toy Aussie Shepherd understand simple commands — sit, come, go, and so on. They use puzzle toys, treat dispensers, simple cup games, hide and seek and even fetching as the training gets complicated.

But the trainers will ensure that your Toy Aussie has fulfilled each competency level before progressing. This is typically done by following a checklist for each level. 

The best method to process is positive and reward-based strategies. Forceful dog trainers are there, but the results of their technique fade away with time.

The goal is to make them understand and remember specific commands. That way, it only takes one or two words to make your Toy Aussie do what you want them to.

So, how does dog training work for toy Australian shepherds? There are two main methods.

The first method is in-person training — a bit expensive but does the job.

The price goes up since they charge by the hour or because they have to maintain their kennel. These dog trainers are well-qualified, trained, and experienced in handling all sorts of dog breeds. 

But even so, make sure they know your canine companion is a Toy Australian Shepherd.

Toy Australian Shepherd standing on the beach

The second method is online training — inexpensive and does the job better.

Both training methods go in monthly-based/subscription-based or as a one-time payment.

There are several types of lessons in online dog courses. Some of them are content bundles in the form of video, audio, and PDF packages. They also can be online Zoom classes.

If you’re taking an online course, you’ll be consulted the whole time. Imagine how effective the result would be when you’re doing all this with a breed that craves parental attention. That’s why online training courses are recommended with Toy Aussies.

Not only that, you can reach out to respective online communities, forums, and even the creator of the training content for questions. 

On top of all that, you can train your dog at your own pace. You don’t have to lose your leave days or reschedule your plans overly. 

There are so many other reasons why online training is better.

The bottom line is that your Toy Aussie must be trained, especially mind-trained.

Health Issues to Expect From Toy Australian Shepherds

Toy Australian Shepherd lying on the chair

There’s no other way to get around it — the breed is very sensitive and prone to a handful of conditions. But all small breeds have that issue. 

But note that not small dogs have all of these issues, and certain drugs can control the problems perfectly.

In fact, the American Kennel Club recommends at least one monthly vet visit for the breed. The recommendation stays the same even if it is a Toy Australian Shepherd puppy.

But let’s look at some of the most common dog health issues.

Epilepsy

You can expect epileptic symptoms from 6 months of age.

The UK Kennel Club categorized canine epilepsy as a chronic condition.

It’s also important to understand that dog epilepsy cannot be cured. The aim is to control the seizures.

You can keep an eye on these characteristics, such as losing voluntary control, muscle twitching, and jerking in these two types of instances,

Toy Australian Shepherd sitting on the ground
  • Irregular and sudden attacks that start and finish suddenly 
  • Regular attacks with similar clinical patterns

Your Toy Aussie is likely recommended with the Antiepileptic drug (AED) therapy which is continued indefinitely.

Double-Merle

This isn’t a condition but more of a characteristic that occurs when the dog is bred from two merles. The problem is the doubling of the merle gene. That pushes the dogs to go blind, deaf, or both. That’s why pure merle puppies are a risk.

This shouldn’t discourage you from getting your toy Australian shepherd bred by at least one merle. But going for two merles is risky as it increases the health risks.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is not a chronic condition, but it cannot be cured as well. 

The Toy Aussies’ hip joints will loosen as they grow, which causes dysfunction. The main reason is the wearing down of the hip bone and cartilage. The final stage of hip dysplasia is arthritis, atrophy, and limited mobility.

Omega-3 fatty acids, vet-approved glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and other certain drugs are typically used to control the condition successfully.

Eye Problems

Toy Australian Shepherd is known to have eye problems from all over the world.

Some of these significant complications are Collie eye anomaly (CEA) cataracts, distichiasis, and corneal dystrophy.

Collie Eye Anomaly is incurable. But a qualified Ophthalmologist can easily diagnose the CEA when the puppies are 6-8 weeks old.

Cataracts are the typical cloudiness on the eye lens, which leads to blindness.

Toy Australian Shepherd's eye

But note that these conditions aren’t fatal. Some can be cured, and some can be controlled. All you need is a reliable vet treating your toy Aussie.

How Long Do Toy Australian Shepherds Live?

The life expectancy of Toy Aussies is about 12-15 years.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Toy Australian Shepherd

Pros

Toy Australian Aussies are very sociable and friendly
They make excellent companion dogs 
They are highly trainable 
They are highly intelligent
They will blend in better with family members
They are a very adorable breed
They are generally healthy dogs
They do not take up that much space 
Their feeding requirement is comparatively very low
They are convenient to be bred 

Cons

Toy Australian shepherds require a lot of attention 
They aren’t highly suitable for families with kids
They can be noisy and defensive with strangers
They aren’t ideal for people with sedentary lifestyles

Toy Australian Shepherds: Summarized

Compactness of size10/10
Grooming convenience8/10
Trainability8/10
Suitability for families8/10
Typical health conditions6/10
Suitability for new dog parents4/10
Prey drive 6/10
Friendliness towards strangers4/10

Overall Cost of a Toy Australian Shepherd

The average initial cost of a Toy Australian Shepherd can be anywhere between $500 – $1800 in the USA. But there are a couple of essential factors that decide the cost.

The first factor is the choice of the breeder. You’ll notice how small-time breeders price their Toy Aussie puppies more expensive than commercial breeders. 

The reason is that some hobby breeders take the best care of the puppies by providing the best food, vet services, and so on.

But this necessarily doesn’t mean all hobby breeders who demand more have provided higher care for sure.

You need to hand-pick reputable breeders.

The next reason is the rarity of the colors. Single-color puppies are abundant, unlike merle-colored ones, which increases their cost. 

Toy Australian Shepherd sitting on the grass

In parallel, the dog’s lineage significantly influences the price. The price will go higher if their parents are show dogs, working dogs, or even dog sports competition winners.

But still, it’s only in rare situations when the initial purchasing cost exceeds the $2000 mark.

Apart from purchasing, you also need to buy essential items such as grooming tools, a harness, a collar, water bowls, and even toys. After that comes the vet expenses, health checks, vaccinations, microchipping, and pet insurance.

For all of that, a Toy Australian shepherd would require about $1200-$1500 commitment annually. But expect relatively higher expenses during puppyhood since that’s when most work is needed. 

However, it goes without saying that the expenses can be higher with special medical conditions.

Finally, the life cost of a Toy Australian Shepherd is about $10,000-$12,000 in the USA.

Your Risk-Less Guide to Owning a Toy Australian Shepherd 

Toy Australian Shepherd playing on the ground

It’s not that difficult to go out and buy a Toy Australian Shepherd — all it takes is one Google search. But this is about getting the best possible result.

First, ensure to choose responsible breeders with a good record. There are two aspects of verifying a good history; by their previous customers or the medical and food purchase records they produce.

You must verify the details about the dog’s parents for two reasons. 

The first reason is that you should know your investment is justified. The second reason is that you don’t want your toy Aussie to end up deaf or blind — remember the Collie eye anomaly?

If the price feels a bit lower than usual, but the puppy looks exceptional, there’s a good chance that it is a standard Australian Shepherd

You’d only notice the growth difference after months, and by that time, the breeder might be gone. So, remember that the price needs to be reasonable.

If you’re not so fixated on buying a toy Aussie, you can always adopt one. The chances of finding a Toy Australian shepherd might be less, but it doesn’t hurt to look. The initial cost will always be lower when adopting.

The bottom line is that adhering to these strategies is essential in owning a Toy Australian Shepherd with little or no risks.

Other dog breed guides:

In Conclusion

Toy Australian Shepherds are an excellent choice for family pets. These small dogs are highly intelligent, friendly, and highly trainable.

But there are various commitments you must be prepared to do — grooming, attention (especially for a puppy), and training are the three most prominent ones.

But the bottom line is that a Toy Aussie could be your devoted friend; all you need to do is find the breeders and follow your vet’s instructions.

Before you go, be sure to save this page for the future; it’ll certainly come in handy.

FAQs

Yes, owning a Toy Australian Shepherd is worth it, as they are known to be friendly and active and can bring joy to your life.

The life expectancy of a Toy Australian Shepherd is around 12-15 years.

Toy Australian Shepherds are naturally hyperactive, which contributes to their ability to age well.

Toy Australian Shepherds are known to make good family dogs as they crave human affection. However, it is important to note that if there are small children in the family, extra care should be taken to ensure their safety.

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Laura Vinzy
Laura Vinzy is one of our contributors. She is also a certified professional dog trainer & currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and her two rescue dogs.

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